When we first included China in our travel plans as an alternative to Japan, I thought it was to play a totally unknown card that could go out anyway. I didn't know the country and not many people who had been traveling there. A couple of friends from Dublin gave me quite optimistic expectations but the image of a very fierce political regime with its population and much uncertainty remains in your head.
We arrived in Kampot and perhaps it is the most beautiful and relaxing village I have found in Cambodia. The river divides the city in two and people relax eating or chatting on their side. The truth is that there is not much movement, anyone would say that there is no work for anyone ... On the second day we went with a van to take a tour of the Bokor National Park.
In X'ian there are not only terracotta warriors, there are also Sabadell Catalans and a plague of Spaniards screaming for the market! X'ian, capital of the Chinese territory until the ninth century, competed with Rome in its time and then with Constantinople and other large cities for being the most powerful and opulent.
After five hours by bus in the rain and after crossing the mountains of northern Yunnan through Tibetan terrain I have arrived in Zhongdian, also called with the mysterious name of Shangri-la. According to the Chinese government, this is the official Shangri-la although it seems to be a kind of West Dorado with dozens of towns called in the same way throughout the Tibetan terrain.
Today we got up at 5 to take a boat trip around the Mekong and visit the floating markets of Cai Rang and Phong Dien. It was 6 in the morning when we were in the street and it seemed the rush hour of so many people who swarmed the streets. Without coffee, cut or sub-underground, we have climbed into the boat-canoe of just 3.5 meters in length and we have entered this river monster that is the Mekong.
The dead man is undressed in his white clothes and all those who witness the funeral bathe with incense. The Tonden sharpens its long dagger against a stone while reciting mandras and cutting the flesh of the body into large pieces. The bones and brain are crushed and mixed with flour. The smell of meat and incense attracts a large number of vultures that circle around the funeral.
And we come to this wonderful city. A living museum declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO where one has the feeling of having been catapulted two centuries ago in Asia from the silk trade and the quiet and meditative life of the Buddhist mentality. After the Kon Tum experience I think we will relax for a few days in this beautiful place.
We arrive at Nha Trang, one of the best beaches in Vietnam, where we spend a day and a night. On the same beach the services are incredible: massages, food (lobsters, huge crabs, etc.) manicures, beauty treatments, Vietnam-style zipps, t-shirts, etc.) The same beach, beautiful with a few jungle islands around it It looks like a moving market.
The alarm rang at 6 and at that moment I knew that a long day of coach was waiting for me until I reached Daoghang but without a doubt I was completely unaware that it would be such a rugged and so long journey ... At 7 o'clock the coach left with me as the only tourist to a town that does not appear in the Lonely Planet but is close to a national park and is plunged among the Tibetan mountains of Sichuan and on the way to Litang in the direction of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan.
Throughout Asia, sinks are simple holes where one huddles and throws whatever he wants. But there are holes and holes and the truth is that those in China take the cake! They are usually rooms with small partition walls without doors between each hole. The mere fact that they are watching you while you do your needs does not matter much either, but what is really disgusting is the fact that there is no water!
Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, with no more than 11 million inhabitants. We have left the Tibetan wild west to the skyscrapers, the Christian Dior, the innumerable Chinese copies of any western brand, such as dadidas, north faced, niki, ermenegildo zola, etc. etc. They are cracks imitating these people!
Good Morning Vietnam! We have left Cambodia behind this morning and we have finally entered Vietnam through the Mekong River. It has been 6 hours of boat and paperwork but it was worth it. The Mekong Delta is spectacular. The river, which rises on the slopes of Tibet and reaches the banks of Vietnam through Burma, Thailand and Cambodia, widens incredibly and then opens in infinite forms, that's why they call it the nine-headed dragon.
The Great Wall of China. A wonder of the ancient world still standing and incredibly also under my feet. We have gone, along with some English that we have found on the bargain path, to one of its purest sides. In Huanghua, about 60 km north of Beijing, the wall extends through an infinite mountain range in its wildest state.
I arrived in Delhi around midnight and discovered that the rickshaws do not rest in this city for a single minute. I stayed in Paharganj, backpackers neighborhood, crowded with markets, noise and little taste of India but at least it contains cheap hostels, it is close to the train station and halfway to the new and old city.
From Beijing to Kathmandu. It has been a hard flight. I left at 8:30 in Beijing with a stopover in Chengdu and apparently in China they do not take into account the issue of transfers and even with the same company (Air China) I had to pick up a backpack. I arrived at 12 at night in Chengd and the flight to Kamandu did not leave until 7:30 in the morning, so I was expecting a long night of lonely poet at the Sabina-style airport.
After eight hours of train I arrived in Ajmer. Sacred city for Muslims where 7 pilgrimages equal one to Mecca. It was seven o'clock in the morning and with a couple of English we got on the bus that took us between a few hills from a western filmed in Almeria to the beautiful town of Pushkar.
-Namaste! To Old Delhi station, please. Twenty rupees? The rickshaw driver stopped the bicycle in the middle of the traffic that was piled up between the streets of Paharganj. - Forty rupees.- dryly answered. -Well, it's 30. The driver was satisfied and jumped into the vehicle with my backpack between my legs.
Will India become the great economic power that was in the eighteenth century before being colonized by the British Empire? Perhaps, although what really worries us from Viaja Blog, in love with that vast country also called the Asian Subcontinent, is that India remedies its enormous economic and social inequalities, so that all its citizens enjoy a similar level of opportunities.
-My business is to scam tourists and I like it.- That way I confirm that principles that taxi driver in Udaipur and his overwhelming sincerity left me stunned. On the way to the station I had an interesting conversation with a taxi driver in Udapiur. The man asked five times more than the usual price refusing to haggle under any circumstances since he said it went against his principles.
My eyes can't believe what they are seeing. There are people sleeping in every corner that my sight reaches. How is it possible for these people to live this way? A lot of questions begin to run through my mind, and I've only been in the country for a few minutes! The taxi driver, while trying to dodge a cow behind another who are crossing his path in the middle of the highway we are driving, asks us if it is our first visit to India.
It is not very common to get up at four o'clock in the morning due to the screams of a drunken Nigerian, installed in the next room, reciting the New Testament. In Mumbai and, especially in Colaba, it can happen. I would have got up and gently asked my neighbor to please shut up, but two compelling reasons grabbed me to the bed springs.